Matti is a young woman who has struggled to find her place in the world. Not only does Matti have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), but like many people we serve, she is dually diagnosed with mental health conditions. Many other providers tried to serve Matti, but typically would give up after a short period of time. One day we received a call from the County Board of DD, would Koinonia be willing to take on this challenge?
After much consideration and speaking to her team members, Patti Matzinger, Director of Waiver Services, agreed to take Matti on – but only if a team was assembled to meet prior to Koinonia serving her, to develop a plan and a support system. Matti was currently in a nursing home recovering from multiple hospitalizations, and she would be in the nursing home for the next 3 months. That gave Patti and her team, Matti’s guardian, and the County Board the time they needed to prepare.
USING A TRAUMA INFORMED CARE APPROACH
The support system that developed was the first time that Koinonia had officially tried a “Trauma Informed Care” approach with one of their clients. Trauma-informed Care recognizes the widespread impact of trauma and teaches our staff members to respond in ways that promote resilience and hope, while simultaneously teaching coping skills to people who have IDD.
People with IDD have complex care needs. A large majority are exposed to trauma and chronic toxic stress resulting in an array of social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. At a minimum, one-third of all individuals with IDD suffer from a co-occurring mental illness. Oftentimes, the needs of this population go under-treated or misunderstood as behavioral issues. That was the case with Matti.
The team worked to develop a biographical timeline of Matti’s trauma history. And began to under her life perspective based on the lifelong trauma that she encountered. Based on Matti’s trauma history, the team identified how they themselves were feeling, what they needed as a result, and then identified the needed interventions to support Matti.
In addition to the weekly team meetings, in late July Koinonia staff started developing a relationship with Matti during visits with her at the nursing home.
While Matti’s journey with Koinonia has not always been a smooth one, Matti has been successfully living in her home for over a year. Her progress is evidenced by initially requiring two staff, but for the last several months has been served with one staff. She also is attending work regularly, participates in community outings which she initially refused, and has developed healthy relationships in the community. Her relationships with family members also appear to have stabilized.
Matti helped Koinonia begin its journey to incorporate trauma responsive practices throughout the agency. According to President and CEO Diane Beastrom “This is a cultural shift in understanding others and ourselves,” added Beastrom. “Trauma-informed care is a critical element in helping us address our workforce challenges, continuous improvements in service quality, and other organizational procedures.”
Today, Matti is now an employee at Koinonia Enterprise as a receptionist. We are so proud to see how far she has come and we were happy to welcome her as a Koinonia employee!
Matti’s story represents the potential impact of implementing Trauma-Informed Care training across our entire organization. But Trauma-Informed Care training is expensive and highly specialized. We have hundreds of staff members who need to be trained. With your support, we can train all of our staff members in Trauma-Informed Care techniques so that together we can reach more people like Matti. Will you stand with us again today to support this critical training program?
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